Data Digest № 003
Hey there, welcome to this week’s Data Digest. Let’s get to the most important things to have happened in the world of data this week.
Apple launches “privacy first” credit card
On Monday, Apple revealed its latest addition to its product line: an Apple credit card.
So what exactly makes an Apple credit card so special? After all there are hundreds of credit cards already in the market. According to Tim Cook, the answer is simple — data. The Apple credit card, much like any other Apple product, stands out because it is “designed to keep your personal information private and secure.” Next to usability, data ownership seems to be the next core differentiating feature that Apple wants to use to get a leg up on their competitors across their entire product line.
Contrary to Google, Facebook, and other tech giants, Apple does not operate a proprietary advertising network through which it can monetize the data created on their platforms. That being said, neither do Amex, Mastercard, Visa, but they still net a yearly profit of about $400 million selling your data to hedge funds. And guess who Apple partnered up with to create this new credit card? Mastercard and Goldman Sachs.
While Apple may have genuine intentions to safeguard your data, and while simply selling you devices and subscriptions has made it the most profitable company on this planet, there’s some uncertainty about the reach of the privacy promises they make. They say that they “will never share or sell your data to third parties for marketing or advertising,” but why isn’t it “we will never share or sell your data,” full stop? The specific rejection of what they won’t do makes it clear that they do have some designs to share and sell your data elsewhere. Where that elsewhere is, and for what purposes Goldman Sachs is planning to use and sell the treasure trove of extremely sensitive data collected is unclear, so just like any centralized systems outside your control, the only thing you can do is trust Apple and Goldman Sachs.
Introducing Apple Card, a new kind of credit card created by Apple
“Privacy first” unless it’s HBO
Next to the credit card Apple announced a premium streaming service, competing with Amazon and Netflix, which does not seem to offer the same privacy promises as Apple Card. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that their premium network brand HBO (among others) will have access to viewer data from third-party distribution channels. Asked by Andrew Ross Sorkin whether this included Apple, Johnson touted
So that’s how far Apple’s new differentiation strategy goes?
AT&T CEO claims HBO will glean consumer data from Apple TV viewers
Zero-party data is trending
What if companies stopped using third party data providers to power their algorithms and instead asked consumers for it? To readers that have been following Datawallet, this may seem like a familiar pitch. Because data sourced by data brokers isn’t just extremely objectionable business, depriving us of what should be a fundamental human right, data ownership, but it is also extremely inaccurate.
In a 2017 study of 107 U.S. professionals titled “Predictably Inaccurate,” Deloitte found that, across all categories, respondents believed 71% of their purchased data to be 0% to 50% correct. Ouch. Juxtapose that to 90% of consumers stating that they crave personalization, which this inaccurate third party data just can’t cut. It’s expected that 15% of global brands will be collecting zero party data next year, and while the major inspiration is fear of regulation as opposed to seeing zero party’s data moral and practical superiority, it’s nice to see that the once-novel concept of giving users data ownership is gaining traction.
Instead of surveillance, what if we told advertisers what they wanted to know?
A little data science can go a long way
Despite its faults, third party data is a good example of the one-eyed man leading the blind. The gym company Equinox used Adobe Analytics to scrape online and offline data from members who recently had cancelled their membership and crafted personalized messages and offers for them. This little stunt yielded a staggering 500% increase in conversion rates. We wonder what the lift above baseline had been with zero party data. We may soon find out.
Exclusive: How Equinox is using data to win back rogue gym members
LinkedIn teams up with Adobe to better monetize your data
Great news for everyone who has been feverishly waiting for big companies to make even more money off of their data. Adobe customers can now tap into LinkedIn data to boost their targeting — enabling companies to use information about you like your position, tenure, location, education, and much more. The deal will bring tremendous upside to marketers, LinkedIn, and Adobe, but as always the users whose data powers the entire deal, will see none after seeing their data is being leveraged, sold, and taken further out of their control.
LinkedIn Announces New Data Partnership with Adobe to Improve Ad Targeting
FICO and Equifax partner to broker your data
And while we’re at it, here’s another blockbuster partnership aiming to get more value from users’ data. FICO and Equifax are merging data sets so companies can better assess risk, personalize offers, and address compliance risk. Basically, marketers are now empowered to use your data to send you ever more invasive credit reports and advertise junk loans to you. In short, FICO and Equifax are getting all the upside and passing all the downside on to you. Sweet!
Equifax, FICO launch Data Decision Cloud as credit scores meld with marketing, compliance, customer experience | ZDNet
Android comes pre-packaged with top-tier data stealers
Checking 2700 volunteer Android users, researchers uncovered 82.501 pre-installed Android apps, many of which harvest data on users. These pre-installed apps work without any indication or permissioning, simply by turning on your phone. Some apps grab location, email, and even camera data, while others are used to monitor other apps you install later — empowered by smartphone vendors, mobile network operators, analytics services, and online service companies. Yet another example of how the data brokerage world built on secret cabals is going behind the backs of users.
Android apps gather user data without permission
Hardware hacks are never good — Intel chip vulnerability found
Security researchers presented a new Intel chip vulnerability that allows access to all of the computer’s data, the Visualization of Internal Signals Architecture (VISA), a part of the Platform Controller Hub (PCH). The VISA was made to help the debugging process, and otherwise be disabled, but it’s been shown that the VISA can be accessed after-the-fact — opening the computer up to attack. On the bright-side, it seems a hacker would need physical access to the computer, using a USB port or similar; on the other side, there are some indications hackers can use this exploit over network connections. Intel, of course, is working on a fix (check out the article for some more technical explanations).
New Intel Chip Bug Can Expose All Data on a Computer to Hackers
That’s all for now. See you again next week!
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